Solar eclipse entices students from school

AME students miss school for solar eclipse
Jason Jax looks at the eclipse through a homemade viewer with Haily Kagin and Laila Singer from Anna Maria Elementary School. They were at the Bridge Tender Inn with their parents. - Tom Vaught | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The classrooms at Anna Maria Elementary were all but deserted on Monday, Aug. 21, the day of the solar eclipse.

“Sixty-six percent of the 268 students registered here missed school or were taken out early, apparently to catch the solar eclipse,” said AME Principal Jackie Featherston on Tuesday. “We had some classes that had only two students present. We combined some classes into one for the day.”

Featherston said the students who stayed in school didn’t miss much.

“A lot of the classes had fun eclipse-related activities planned,” she said. “Some of them watched live coverage on the NASA Channel, and kindergartners made ‘eclipse hats.’ ”

She said 59 percent of the students called in absent.

Local student enrollment shrinks

Featherston said that the percentage of the enrollment coming from off the Island increased to 52 percent, up from 51 percent last year. The loss of Island resident students is being blamed on the rising cost to live on the Island and homeowners moving off the Island after selling their homes to developers, who replace them with vacation rental structures.